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I am Become Death

Chapter Text

There was a sharp, unnatural pain that coursed through the entirety of my body. It was so intense it felt as though there were claws ripping at me from the inside out. I swam in and out of consciousness, only hearing noises around me that were so vague I could not put a name to them. At some point there was a cold hand laid upon my forehead. I began reluctantly to surface to wakefulness.

And that was when I began to remember.

It was as though the memory took place outside of my body. The theater, the gunshot, the screaming. I saw myself laid out, hair sticky and warm with blood. I remember several tearstained and gasping faces. Above all, I remember dying.

My eyes flew open to find a blurry haze. I quickly realized I was looking at a ceiling. It was made of wooden planks and looked so much of my boyhood home in Indiana. Candlelight flickered somewhere to my right but the rest of me was surrounded by darkness. It must be night. My breath was ragged. I hoped that what I had seen in my fitful slumber was just some terrible dream.

“Calm yourself, Abraham,” a voice said from somewhere within the room. I knew that voice. There was a rise of panic and horror that welled inside of me. My great fear was true and I knew than that what I had seen had been no dream. There was only one way I could be alive and it had to do with the creature that voice belonged to.

I wanted to strike out, to tear him apart but found that my limbs could not move. I was not bound as I had been, years before when I had first met him. I just seemed incapable of controlling my own body. I felt as though it were rebelling against me. There was a fire inside my chest and yet the rest of me felt insatiably cold.

“What-?” I tried to speak out but the harshness of my own voice was a surprise to me. My throat was parched. I saw him in the candlelight, a speck on the corner of my eye. A cold palm once again was laid flat against my forehead.

“You’re changing, it may hurt for some time, feel strange, but this will pass, as all things do,” Henry said. I wanted to rip his heart out. I was dead. I was gone. I was home, with my boys, with my mother, with my family. He could not leave me to it. Had I not served diligently long enough? Had I not earned the right to peace?

Hatred overtook my senses but soon was overshadowed by an eruption of pain that shot through my legs. I felt a scream push through my lungs and burn through my throat but it did not escape my lips. I began to convulse so violently it shook the entire bed. I prayed for death, to be released.

I did not want this. I closed my eyes and tried to die, tried to release whatever bonds to this existence I had. There was a bloom of fire that consumed my flesh. There was no escape. I opened my eyes to find Henry pinning me down although my seizure had let up somewhat. I tried to pour all my anger, hate, and disappointment into the look we shared before passing into unconsciousness.

Chapter Text

When next I woke my eyes immediately felt pained. Even through the heavy curtains of the window, the filtered sunlight was still enough to hurt my eyes. I squinted and after a few minutes began to adjust. There was a throbbing that coursed through my skull, like a headache, but it was more annoying than actually painful.

As for the horrendous pain and fire from the night before, it had gone and was replaced with a numbing cold sensation that racked through my entire body. It was a different sort of discomfort but one that I feared I would become used to. I was tied to this new existence whether I wanted to be or not. There was no way out. That was unless…

I managed to sit up, my energy somewhat restored, and looked around the room, searching for anything that I could use as a weapon. It would be oddly poetic for it to be my axe, but my longtime companion was nowhere to be seen. Nor was there any sort of knife or rope, not even a bed sheet that could be fastened into a noose.

Let it not be said that Henry did not know me well.

It was as if just thinking of him summoned him, as he chose that moment to walk through the door on the opposite side of the room. He looked almost bashful as he peered around the frame of the door. He used the bulky wood as a shield; all but his head was hidden behind it. A foolish endeavor as that was all I needed to rid him of.

“Do not be angry with me,” were the first words he chose to speak. I had gained much of my liveliness, if it could be called such a thing now, but was still too saturated in my limbs of the odd cold feeling to be able to attack him.

“Why?” was the only thing I could manage to say. The single word held so much hatred and disappointment.

“Some men are just too interesting to die,” was Henry’s response. I could feel a tiny ball of fire begin to rise in the pit of my stomach. “And I wanted you.”

There was a meaning behind his words that I was unwilling to dwell too heavily on. There had been many times when I had sensed in Henry a longing for more than just friendship or a hunter to do his bidding. In life I had pushed such an insensible idea away as there was never any action to accompany it. In my youth I must admit that I had felt a stirring of curiosity over the matter but after Mary there was only ever a stray thought or unbidden dream to keep the notion alive.

Mary.

A panic welled inside of me and I looked about the room as though expecting her to suddenly materialize as Henry had. This seemed to have caught Henry off guard, as he raised an eyebrow and jumped slightly at my sudden movement. It was not often, if ever, that I could surprise Henry.

“Where is she?” I said, no longer interested in the implication Henry had just made. He looked almost disappointed, either by the change in subject or what I had changed it to; I could not tell and did not care.

“Mourning you, naturally,” Henry replied, not having to ask of whom I spoke. I tried to push off the bed but my legs felt loose, as though detached from my body. I had to look down and make sure they were there, the feeling was so eerie. Indeed they were, just as I had left them.

Looking down it was then that I realized how short my trousers were and how loosely they sat around my waist. Indeed, the shirt I wore was also of ill fitting. I ran my hand along the untucked hem. It was as though I could feel every strand of silk that had created it. I felt the stitching as though they scratched every surface of my skin.

“Some of my old wardrobe,” Henry said as he dared to step into the room and lay a hand on the center of my chest. He pushed me back down onto the bed and in my state I could not fight him. “You are still healing, it will take time. You were gone for far too long.”

“Dead, I was dead,” I said, the most words I had managed to string together and in them a definite accusation. Henry bowed his head so as not to have to look at me. I wondered how I looked. I suppose as a man who had been shot in the head and dead for...how long had I been gone?

“Breath now,” Henry said, in a commanding voice. I tried not to, just out of spite. Why would I need to breathe anyway? Eventually I did feel my lungs fill with air and I could not hold on any longer. I let out a gasp and quickly sucked in another, this time releasing it in an attempt to calm myself.

Henry was right, I needed to regain my strength and take on my new position. It was only then that I could kill him and myself and once again return to my family. I was content with this idea and I found myself falling into dark, dreamless sleep.

--

There was something warm on my lips when I next woke. The light from the windows had gone and night had returned. I licked whatever was being placed on my lips. It tasted metallic, and felt smooth and warm. It was blood. My eyes flew wide but an arm across my chest held me in place.

I forced myself to focus on where the blood was coming from and when my vision cleared I could see Henry basked in candlelight. One of his arms pinned me while the other was slit across the wrist and hovered just above my now open mouth. I wanted to shut it, pull away from the blood, but I could feel my stomach churn in anticipation.

“Drink,” Henry said. This time I obeyed, but only out of hunger. It had to have been days since I last ate. While my mind was repulsed by the idea my stomach gave no such argument. Henry allowed me to bind my mouth to his wrist and I felt the sudden slide of fangs from my gums as I latched on.

My face felt strangely warm, tingling and in the fog of my feeding I could barely see Henry staring at me with fascination, as though I were performing some sort of trick. Surely he must have seen this before? Perhaps he had even done this before. There was a twinge in my chest at the thought of Henry having turned someone besides me.

“That’s enough,” Henry said as he began to take his wrist away. I tried to bury my fangs in deeper, but the arm that pinned me was suddenly at my throat and I had to gasp for breath. I released, to both my disappointment and my horror. I had become one of them; this just made it more solid, more concrete.

Henry’s wound quickly began to heal now that there was no one suckling from it. He buttoned the cuff of his sleeve and opened the drawer of the nightstand next to the bed. Without a word he took out a handheld mirror and placed the glass before me. What I saw made me gasp.

My face, once lined with age, was now smooth as it had been when first I met Henry. My hair was no longer coarse and covered with grey. There was a ring of drying red blood around my lips, which were frozen open in surprise.

“Soon you will feel young again, I figured the least that I could do was make sure you look it as well,” Henry said as he released me so I could touch my face in an attempt to make certain what I was seeing was indeed real. I looked down to the rest of my body, which had always been thin and lithe, to see that some of the muscles I had from years of hunting had returned.

“I know it will take you time to forgive me,” Henry whispered. At this I sent him a glare, though the urge to kill him had been somewhat diminished. “But now we have all the time in the world.”

Here he smiled. I cannot recall if I had ever seen him truly smile. It lit up his entire face, made him seem almost human. It took considerable effort not to return such a genuine show of happiness. He passed a hand through my now thicker, darker hair, letting it run along his fingers.

Suddenly he moved forward and pressed his lips to mine. I tensed, unsure of what to do or how to react. I felt his tongue swipe just below my lip and I realized that he was removing the blood there. I felt a wave of cold, much colder than what I had been continuously feeling, wash over me.

“I have wanted you,” Henry said after he pulled away from me, “since the moment I saw you.”

He was straddling my hips now, perched above me with his arms as support. A hand was on either side of my neck, resting between my shoulder and the pillow under my head. In his dark eyes there was a wild light that seemed to grow from nowhere, but I convinced myself was a reflection of the candle that burned next to us.

“I forced myself to stay distant, I ruin all the things that come close to me and I did not want to hurt you,” Henry continued, his eyes darting across my face, down my chest, and back up again. “I wanted you to be happy, to be loved, to have a family. You had all of this and yet you suffered anyway.”

I swallowed harshly around the bile and blood caught in my throat. Henry pushed his nose against mine briefly and closed his eyes, as though the mere contact gave him pleasure. He bent his elbows to bring his chest down flush against mine. I felt warm again. I felt blood hammer through my veins, recycling through my heart.

“I will spend the rest of our existence making this up to you,” Henry whispered, his breath across my face. “I cannot say that I will love you, love seems such an inconceivable, human emotion to me. But I can say that in the years of your marriage I tried to forget you, to distract myself from you. I took many lovers, men and women, young and old, but I never felt for them what I feel for you and that feeling has not wavered in all these years.”

He kissed my lips again, softly, but with an air of restraint. He kissed underneath my chin and down my jaw until his mouth was flush against my ear. He whispered, “I will never forsake you in favor of another. I will never leave you less you truly want to be rid of me.” Here he stopped speaking to kiss my earlobe. “We can fight and fuck and hunt whenever and wherever you want.”

I felt the pit of my stomach tighten at these words and could not help but feel a twitch of interest within my trousers. He kissed me just below my ear and brought a hand to skim down the side of my chest, over my ribs, lighting them with flame in their wake, even through my shirt.

“I am completely,” Henry whispered as the hand stopped on my sternum, “at your mercy.”

The hand had ceased but I could feel the restlessness at wanting to continue its journey south. I tried to breath, to collect a coherent thought. I could feel the blood I had just consumed was now flooding through my system, making my judgment on the matter that much hazier. My limbs were again alive and pliable, but I fought to restrain them.

Despite my physical reaction I could not quell my hatred for the man. I was angry at him for turning me into what I had hunted, what I had loathed. He made me a monster. And then there was Mary. My sweet wife. I could not forsake her in favor of such a villain. It took all my strength to push Henry away from me, hard enough so that he stumbled off and onto the floor at the foot of the bed.

“There is nothing you could ever do that would repay your debt to me,” I retorted harshly as I sat up on the bed to look down on him. His eyes narrowed at me. “I had peace from that life and you stole it from me. You turned me into the devil I spent my life despising. There is no forgiveness for this.”

Before Henry could utter a word I was off the bed and out the door. I heard him scramble to follow me. I was met by a small hallway which held two other doors besides me own . I walked to the end of the hall to find it emerged into a large room with a shabby desk, a fireplace, and another door. By the build of it, strong and thick, I knew it to be the door to the outside world.

I hesitated for a moment and felt Henry wrap a hand around my elbow. I yanked it away from him and marched to the door with defiance. I pulled it open, pulling the lock off with it, and made my way with great hurry into the darkness outside.

Chapter Text

From the glow of the full moon I could see only woods in every direction. The trees were too high and too close together to make out star patterns to guide me. I had no semblance of where to go. I would move one way and then decide it was best to go another. It was not long before Henry was at my side, grabbing me to try and keep me still.

“Don’t leave,” Henry was saying as I turned in a tight circle, still deciding which avenue would be best to take. “There are vampires out there that want your head.”

“They can have it,” I replied without much thought. Henry grabbed my arms and held tight. I may be his kind, but he was still older and therefore much stronger than I. My movements finally came to an end and I was forced to look at him.

“Then they win,” Henry said. “You have a chance, Abraham, to rid the world entirely of vampires. There is all the time you need to do so.”

I was intrigued by his words. I tried to resist it, but the idea of eradicating the world once and for all of the scourge of vampires was pleasing. But the thought of my family, those already gone and those I would still have to watch die, plagued me. There was a choice lying before me: to perish or to prosper.

I had planned to destroy Henry and then myself, to put an end to all of this. But then what of those I leave behind? Not just my wife and sons, but the entire country. There is still a war but this one they were oblivious of. There were others that would fight, but they were few and far between. And they had none of the compassion that Henry and I had.

As much as I would like to give in such a thing has never been in my nature. I knew what my choice must be. I must hide in the shadows, keep my family safe, watch them in their lives, watch them as they die. I sent young men to their deaths on the battlefield. They who gave the last full measure of devotion. I must repay them.

I began to calm somewhat. Henry saw this and released his hold on me. He took a step back as well, not wanting to crowd me. It was such a sharp change from what had just occurred in my room that I knew he had done it deliberately. It was his way of saying that his sentiments would not be renewed.

“Very well,” I said, both to myself and to him. I turned back to the cabin, not caring if he followed behind. I made my way to my room, shutting my door and meeting no resistance. Once I was alone I began to dwell on my situation, an act that deeply grieved me. I quickly began to realize that I could no longer cry. In a way it was a relief, I had lived much of my life in such spells of depression and tears.

I thought mostly of Mary as I lay on my bed, unable to sleep. I stared up at the ceiling, still visible to me despite the faltering candlelight. I thought of her face and her sweet smile. I tried to remember the sound of her voice and the smell of her perfume. It was as though she had been the one to die and not I. I was remembering her as though she were a ghost. But, no, she still lived.

I knew at once that I must see her. I knew that I could not speak to her and under no circumstances could she see me, but I must be able to look upon her face again. I think of how she will grow old and frail and die. I think of Robert and Tad. How I will have to bury two more sons. I must have an image of them in my mind, young and healthy. Something to remember them when they have long gone. Something to keep my human.

The spot where my heart would be should ache and I should feel the sting of tears, but neither happens. There is a gaping hole instead. My mind comprehends that I am sad but I cannot make my body react. I wonder if this is what Henry meant when he said he could not love me.

I shake the thought from my mind, or try to. It just brings on a new thought. Do I still love Mary? Do I still love my children? I know that I should, but can I? Again, my mind tells me that I do, but the feeling of joy and happiness and warmth that my family once brought to me has gone. It is a strange thing to know you love someone but be incapable of feeling that love.

At the first sign of dawn breaking through a small chink in the drapes my eyes began to sting once again. I searched in the bedside table for sunglasses, but found only the mirror. I went through a dresser that stood next to the door but found nothing inside. There were not even clothes.

Outside I heard the creak of the wooden floorboards under the pressure of back and forth footsteps. For a moment I debated if I should go out to him, tell him of the decisions I had made. I was sure he would have a pair of glasses I could shield my eyes with. I also know that he would not care for my plan to see Mary. I warred with myself for a moment before I called out, “Henry?”

The pacing immediately stopped. The silence was quickly followed by the tapping of his feet that grew closer as he neared my room. I backed away from the door but he did not open it right away.

“Are you alright, Abraham?” he asked, concern evident in his muffled voice. I felt a moment of uncertainty of whether I should answer or not. I suppose I should as I had just called for him.

“The sunlight,” I began and was about to continue but the door opened before I could. Henry already had a pair of sunglasses in his hand that he held out to me. I took them without a word, our fingers grazing slightly as I pulled them away.

I slipped them over my eyes and almost right away the pain subsided. I felt strange at first, walking around indoors with sunglasses. With the pain now gone I realized that my eyesight had actually gotten even better than when I was alive. I could see the grain in the floor without so much as having to squint. I could see the individual stitching in Henry’s shirt despite the distance between us.

This made me take notice of other abilities that I seemed to possess. I could hear for miles, the leaves blowing in the wind, the hoof of a deer against the grass. I could smell the slightest of odor, Henry’s musk, the fresh scent of rain from a storm that had yet to approach. I was slightly dizzy by the sudden onslaught of new sensations.

“It will take some getting used to,” Henry said. I was unsure if he meant the sunlight or my new found abilities. I suppose it could be both. Henry shifted uncertainly on his feet. He did not need sunglasses as I suppose the light was not so vexing to him. For some reason this made me angry again, or at least a semblance of anger. I was still having difficulty in how my emotions were functioning under the circumstances.

“I must see Mary,” I stumbled out before I could stop myself. He looked up at me with eyes so sad it almost made me regret my words. Instead I added, “And the boys.”

“I was afraid you would ask that,” Henry retorted. He did not argue as I thought he would. “We will have to leave at night; you are still too vulnerable to sunlight.”

We spent the day in strained silence, Henry sipping uncomfortably on a cup of tea. I wanted to ask how it tasted, if he could taste it. I wondered if he drank it out of boredom or if he still got any sort of nutritional value out of it. I wanted to know if we still needed regular food to live. I had felt hunger while drinking from Henry but had so far there were only faint rumblings for sustenance.

However, I felt the silence was not to be broken and so held my tongue. Part of me was sure that in due time Henry would tell me anything I wished to know. After the display the day before, I was certain that he would do anything I wished. I would not press the advantage I had over him. Mostly because I was uncertain that it truly was an advantage.

Night came slowly, but as soon as the sun had set I was on my feet and waiting by the door for Henry. He took one look at me and said that I needed new clothes. I was still in the much too small ones I had woken up in, the shirt now splattered with droplets of blood. Without another word we walked off into the night. Where I had been at an utter lost, Henry knew exactly where to go.

In just under an hour we found ourselves in a small town. Henry procured new clothes from a shop that was already closed. We dressed quickly, our backs to one another, although I could feel the heat of Henry’s glances against my naked flesh every so often. I felt abominable for stealing from a lowly shopkeeper and so Henry left a handful of coins on the counter before we went.

He was also very proficient at wrangling up horses, although I don’t know how as I went to the nearest person to ask exactly where I was. When I had returned to where I had left Henry he stood with two horses, already reigned and saddled. I thought it best not to ask.

Chapter Text

So hurried was I to see Mary that as the sun rose on the first day of our travel I begged Henry that we should keep riding. He argued against it, said that I needed the rest, to which I bitterly commented that I would never need rest again. This began a quarrel that lasted until the sun was high over the trees. I could feel it burning against my flesh like fire itself. Henry was quick to find us lodgings over a dark, musty tavern.

If the owner found it odd that two men stayed in a room together all day, he made no mention. Although he did give us a scathing look on our way out that night. We paid him no mind and went on our way. We arrived two blocks away from the house a few hours after sunset. I stood behind a tree and stared up into the windows of the house.

From one window I could just barely make out the faint flicker of a candle. Upon focusing my attention there I saw Mary. Tad was in her arms as she rocked him in a chair next to the window. Even at twelve years of age he needed his mother’s comfort. He must have woken from a nightmare. Perhaps it was of me.

 Even in the darkness I could see the red in Mary’s eyes, the hollow of her cheeks, and the paleness of her skin. Even still she was the loveliest creature I had ever laid eyes upon. I stared at her sunken face and her slightly shaking hands. She had always been strong, stronger than anyone gave her credit for. But there was a weakness overtaking her. She seemed unsettled.

I could hear her humming a soft lullaby into Tad’s ear. I closed my eyes and focused on the sound of her voice as though it were my ear she sang into. She made soft little breaths of comfort. If I focused long enough I could feel her arms around me. I imagined my life as it used to be and pretended that I was still there, in the loving embrace of my angelic wife.

“We should go now, the sun will be up soon,” Henry whispered from beside me. I was snapped back into reality. I looked to Henry but found him staring pointedly at the ground. I must have spent longer than I had thought in my reverie. It seemed a blip in time, as I suppose things from here on out would.

I reluctantly left, Henry having to drag me by the arm to get me moving. I kept staring at the fading sight of my wife and son. As dawn grew in the sky and my skin began to peak with pain we made it to an inn on the other side of town. Once there I could not help but stare out the window in our room, even though I could no longer see the house. The harsh glow of the sun, tapered by my sunglasses, could not keep me from looking out of the glass.

“I’m sorry,” Henry said from somewhere behind me. He was sat on the edge of the bed and was watching me, had been since we arrived. I felt the need to remind myself of my decision. I had seen Mary and must begin on my new journey. My old life was gone. Dead.

“When do we begin hunting again?” I asked, this time I turned fully in my chair to look at Henry. He had stripped himself of his jacket and vest and had rolled the sleeves of his shirt to just above his elbows.

“We should practice, I think,” Henry replied, “You’re a little rusty.”

This had the effect I suppose he desired. I was out of my chair immediately. He continued with his taunts, “You also haven’t eaten in days, so you are weak.” This was true. After the first forced feeding of blood I refused to do so again. The only meal I had on our journey was a rat and it was in no way as filling as the blood Henry had given me. He had offered to take a victim and bleed him so that I may drink from a cup. I still refused out of principal.

“A vampire must know how to fight, especially when he is weak,” Henry said as he stood from the bed. I felt a growl begin in my chest, but I forced it down with some hardship. A smile bloomed on Henry’s handsome face, as though he knew exactly what had happened.

“I am not weak,” I spat out. There was a tension between us, had been for days. He was waiting for my reaction to his proposal. I could not give an answer; I did not know my own feelings. I hated him. I wanted him.

“Prove it,” he whispered tersely. I jumped into the air and landed feet first onto his chest. He crashed down onto the floor with little resistance. I crouched over him, baring my weight down on his lungs. He only gave a devilish, greedy smile. I was so taken aback I had little time to react when he grabbed hold of my ankle and pulled it forward.

Instead of landing bottom first on his sternum, he used his not so insignificant power to push out from under me as I was falling. The result was me, flat on my back, knees bent, feet on the ground, Henry between my spread legs. He moved himself over me, chest above mine, and I could feel the coolness of his skin even though no part of him touched me.

“You need to feed, Abraham,” Henry said as he hovered over me. I knew that he was right. I could feel the hunger gnawing away at my stomach. “I can bring you someone.”

“No,” I said out of spite, my teeth gnashed. I tried to push against him, fight him, but I could feel the weakness growing in my limbs. He leaned up to my face, lips almost ghosting across mine.

“You’re so weak,” he said in a whisper, “I could do anything I wanted to you.”

I felt a cold hand slide on my thigh to the button of my trousers. There was part of me that surged with anger, another part that was overwhelmed with excitement. Henry began to unbutton the trousers slowly and I could give no protest, any words I might want to utter either of assent or dissent, were stuck immediately in my throat.

“But I want you to say it,” Henry said, his lips moving against my jaw as he spoke. In that moment I did want him, more than anything. I pushed the thought away in exchange for one of disgust, at myself and at him.

“No,” I said again. Henry backed away, stood, and dragged me to my feet. Before I knew what was happening there was a fist in the air that made contact with my cheek. I could feel the burn of the knuckle, the rawness of a cut.

I reached a hand to touch it but felt no blood. There was still, however, a large scrape that was not immediately healing as I expected it to. I understood a new function of being a vampire: the rate you heal is directly related to the amount of time it’s been since feeding. It was a lesson. The hatred once again burned in my chest, bright and furious.

Chapter Text

After several hours of ardently ignoring Henry while my cut slowly healed, I finally agreed to feed. The condition of which was not one Henry was very happy with. After a difficult argument, made more so by the hunger that threatened to destroy me, he eventually agreed. And this is how I came to be standing over Mary, late in the night, watching her sleep.

I ran a stray strand of her hair between my fingers. I watched it fall back against her cheek and wished my hand could follow. The urge to touch her, to caress her skin, was nearly unbearable. There was a sudden creak of floorboard from down the hall and I could feel the soft thump of feet as they came in our direction. I knew it was Tad, woken once again from a nightmare.

Part of me, a large part of me, wanted to stay. I wanted nothing more than to see my son open the door, to have him run into my arms, to have Mary awaken and cry out in happiness. But I knew this would not be so. For them to know the truth of who – of what – I was would devastate them.

I was out the window as soon as the door began to groan open. There was an audible gasp from behind me and I knew I had not been fast enough. I was so certain that Tad had seen me, although it was likely he did not know it was me. I had probably been no more than a blur out of the corner of his eye, something that he would regard as a shadow of sleep disappearing into the night

I ran across town to the room Henry and I still kept. I ran so hard that I should have felt my limbs burn and my heart pump an unstoppable cadence against my chest. I did not get so much as winded.

“You must feed now,” were the first words from Henry as I entered our room. It was whispered against my ear as he crowded me in the doorway. I wondered why until he allowed me to fully enter. There was a woman of the night lying on Henry’s bed, the top half of her was nude and she was already unconscious.

Were I still human, sweat would have begun to pour from me and a nervous flutter would have arisen through my veins. However, I remained collected, though unsure of how to approach the woman. Henry took hold of my wrist and guided me to her. I could see two small puncture wounds on the side of her neck and knew that Henry had fed from her already.

 “Drink, Abraham,” Henry whispered into my ear. I found that I was suddenly on top of the woman. I could smell her blood through her skin and it was tantalizing. My fangs jutted out from my gums and I bit into her neck, just above the junction of her shoulder.

I felt the sudden warmth of blood spread throughout my body. It flooded me with life. I felt like crying and laughing all at the same time. I drew every last drop of her blood. When I arose from her corpse it was with renewed vigor. I felt stronger than I had ever in life. I turned to Henry who at first was smiling, but soon faltered. I tackled him to the wooden floorboards.

“Not so weak now, am I?” I said, blood and bile spilling down the corner of my mouth. It was then that I felt Henry’s hardness against my thigh. There was no doubt or disgust on my part this time. I grabbed Henry by the front of his shirt and dragged him into a rough kiss.

He was more than eager to oblige. His fingers were at once at the nape of my neck, scratching against hair and skin. Our tongues met and the feel of the slick, wet heat of his mouth made me instantly erect. All I wanted was to devour him whole, to cling to him as though I were drowning.

Henry tugged my shirt from out of my trousers and I let out a frustrated growl when I had to separate our mouths so he could pull it over my head. My lips went immediately back to his. I felt his hands, warm now, coast over my chest, a finger catching my nipple. I sucked in a surprised gasp when he pushed his hip against my erection.

“Say it, Abraham,” Henry suddenly whispered. He bit my lip, but tugged at the back of my hair to keep me from kissing him again. “Tell me you want me.”

I had thought that would be obvious.

“Not just right now,” Henry continued, his breathing ragged. “Tell me you want me always. Forever. From this moment until the end of time.”

Here I had to take pause. I looked down to his face, his eyes, his bruised mouth. I realized that I had already made such a promise. My heart, alive again with someone else’s blood, wretched in my chest. I felt a sweeping sickness run through me. I was pushing myself off of Henry and pacing frantically around the room in the blink of an eye.

“I…I…” I stuttered out, trying my best to collect my thoughts over the sound of blood once again coursing through my veins. Henry remained on the floor, although he propped himself up on his elbows.

“It’s Mary,” he said. It was most certainly not a question. Almost an accusation. With more than just a little hint of sadness.  “I know the way you feel. After I turned, I would not look at anyone else. It took,” here he paused and looked at me, “it took a very long time to find someone I cared for as much Edeva.”

Henry stood now and strode over to where I had finally stopped pacing. He laid a soft, unhurried kiss onto my lips. He cupped my jaw with his hands and tilted my face down until our foreheads and noses were touching. I felt myself begin to ease. The high from my first true feeding began to settle into a distant hum that ran along my veins.

“I have waited for you this long. I will wait longer,” Henry whispered. There was already a question forming on my lips. What if I could never return his affections? I began to voice this but quickly stopped when he pulled away, mumbling something about taking care of the corpse. I watched silently as he dragged her from the room into the unforgiving darkness of night.

--

Henry did not care for the idea of giving me back my axe. I had to swear on my mother’s grave (literally, we rode our horses there to see her) that I would not use it against myself or him before he would return it to me. It took about a month of training before I was back to my old fighting style. Once both Henry and I were satisfied we began to hunt, this time together.

Word reached us that many vampires were fleeing the south in droves, some headed west and some to the farthest stretches of the earth. Still, we moved south, going along the eastern banks of the Mississippi. We were just as swift and unyielding as the river. We hunted under the stars at night and slept inside abandoned buildings during the day.

There was not a single vampire we met that we could not destroy. With every swing of my axe I felt renewed purpose in death. It became that even when I took a human life to quench my hunger I would feel as though I were doing a service. Those we fed on were former slave owners, vampire sympathizers, killers, pedophiles, and the lowest of the low.

It quickly came to my attention that Henry had been right when he said there were many vampires that would want my head. We heard from a particularly vicious vampire who had tried to rip my throat out with his fangs that a man in Illinois had seen me and, having been making deals with vampires since before the war, sold his story to the highest bidder. The man was drained dry and thrown into a sandpit for his trouble.

It seemed I had become a sort of horror story among vampires. Some believed that it was my ghost still exacting revenge. Others thought that it was a copycat or one of my old hunting companions. Most knew that I still stalked the night with my trusty axe, only now I was one of them. If they had feared me while I was alive they were out of their wits with freight now.

After we thanked the vampire for the story and I cut off his head with my axe, Henry and I decided that the story was a good thing. It was better to be feared. Although Henry still made sure to be aware of our surroundings at all times. Some would never dare come after me. Others would take the story as a challenge. Those were the ones we had to be watchful for. Many times I had to wear a disguise, even in the dead of night.

I had actually begun to enjoy myself, to have control over my new circumstances. I felt powerful, strong, and unstoppable. Henry and I had begun to reseed our friendship as it had been so long ago. The more we were together the less I could picture us apart. We knew we were an oddity, every other vampire we met, either friend or enemy, was singular. They all looked upon us with contempt. Neither Henry nor I could be bothered to care.

We remained in each other’s company. We argued and fought and every once in a while he would grab my shoulders and stand on his toes and kiss me. I would oblige him but would never instigate. And when he would trail his hand down my chest and palm my erection through my trousers I would push him away. I would think of Mary and the vow I had made to her. Henry would back away and have to remind himself of his own vow.

Months passed, years even. I lost count of time. After all, time was no longer of any importance. All that mattered was our continued success. I was becoming happier, could actually begin to feel happy. It was of course just when I was beginning to appreciate my new existence that news from home had reached my ears.

Tad was dead.

Chapter Text

I could barely take my eyes from Mary at the funeral. She seemed to have aged decades from the last time I had seen her. She was a wilted flower, her face grey, and barely able to stand upright. At her side was Robert, who held her close. She was not crying but her eyes were red, her face stained with tears. She had run out of ways to cry. The urge to push through the crowd, to hold her, to take her with me was more overpowering than ever.

I began to put my foot forward when a hand on my shoulder restrained me. I heard Henry whisper a distant “No.” I did not pull away from his grasp, did not fight it. I knew he was right without him having the say more than that one simple word. I could not turn Mary. She would not want this. More importantly, she did not deserve it. She had earned the solitude and silence of death.

I watched as my son was sent to the ground. I gave a little prayer with no hope of it being heard. I watched Robert guide Mary to an awaiting carriage. The sky grew dim. I whispered a last goodbye to Tad and walked away.

--

We decided not to return south and to instead journey in the north. I made the suggestion of New York City. Henry said this was the beginning of my “see the world” phase. I claimed it was for business. We had heard stories that there were hundreds of vampires who had migrated from the south into the city in the years after the war. It was ripe for picking.

Upon reaching the city I was in awe of industrial power it held. Even at night it was astounding. The twinkling lights of oil lamps lit street, carriages, windows. The city was a moving, breathing, living entity. I could almost feel its heart beat beneath my feet.

The very night of our arrival we hunted and destroyed seven vampires. Our luck would continue during our stay. After some time we were able to stalk our prey during the day as my skin had become more tolerable to the sun. We hunted any vampire that we deemed a threat. On one occasion it was a child. She had apparently been luring other children from parks and draining them.

I had paused when the time came to decapitate her. She looked up to me with wide, brown eyes, ever innocent and begged for reprieve. In the few seconds that I had put down my axe she had her claws in my throat, ripping at the flesh. Henry grabbed her harshly by the shoulders and tore her away. As she moved to turn toward him I rid her of her head.

The rest of the day we stayed in a hotel room, Henry mumbling nonsense in my ear. All that I could gather was how frightened he had been. Not of the girl, but of the prospect of losing me, of once again being alone.

“Is that why you turned me?” I asked him. We lay on our backs beside one another on the bed, our hands tangled together. We were still clothed, although our white shirts were torn and sprinkled with blood. “Were you lonely?”

“I wanted a companion,” Henry responded. He curled onto his side to put his nose against the top of my ear and throw his free arm around my chest. “I wanted you.”

There was a silence that fell between us. A question formed on my lips but I was reluctant to ask. Henry had answered it years ago. But somehow I felt his response had changed. I swallowed it. Not because I feared his answer but because I knew he would ask me the same and I was afraid of what my response would be.

--

From New York I decided we should travel to Chicago, as I enjoyed the bustle of the city. Besides that, I had heard my only living son was there working as a lawyer. I had not seen him since Tad’s funeral and very much wished to set eyes upon him once more, to see what sort of man he had become, if he had a wife or children. Perhaps I was a grandfather and I had no idea.

We took the train from New York City to Chicago early one morning. It became a lovely spring day as we travelled, warm enough that a coat was not needed but cool enough to be comfortable. Henry sat beside me at the window, reading a book, one hand pressed on my knee. I looked upon each face of those who travelled with us, making certain that none were vampires.

The train stopped halfway through Ohio to refuel and take on and drop off passengers. I was surprised and somewhat dismayed to recognize one of the new patrons. First I only caught a fleeting resemblance, but upon studying the careworn and grey face of the woman I knew exactly who it was.

My hand immediately squeezed the one Henry rested on my leg. He looked up from his book, startled. He followed my stare until he saw her too. She sat only a few seats in front of us with her back to us. After a few minutes she turned around as though sensing our stares. She looked directly at me with weary apprehension, clutched her purse to herself tightly and faced away from us once again.

For the rest of the journey we sat in silence, I looked at Mary and Henry stared at me. When the train stopped she was at once on her feet and ready to disembark. I hurried to follow after, Henry dragging behind me as I still held tightly to his hand. We followed her off the train and onto the platform. She turned to us and we stopped in our tracks. She looked into my eyes and for a moment I swore I could see the flicker of recognition. It was far too soon extinguished and replaced with one of sadness.

I took one last look at her before she made to walk away. I burned her into my memory. I closed my eyes and saw her the first day I met her, the way she looked in her wedding dress, the first time she held our sons in her arms. I opened my eyes once more to see that she had stalked off into the bustling crowd. I could not see her face. Somewhere, deep down, I knew that I never would again.

--

After the incident on the train I decided it was best to not see Robert. Knowing that one of my sons still lived was enough for me. So we determined to continue our way out west. We stopped in several cities, killing as we went, all the way to the Pacific Ocean. I had never been to the ocean before. I rolled up my trousers and waded into the surf, imagined that it washed all those years of blood away.

“It looks like the earth ends in water,” I said as I stared out into the never ending sea. “Like there is nothing else.”

“Oh, but there’s so much more and I would show you all of it,” Henry whispered as he pressed himself against the curve of my spine. He kissed the back of my neck and dug his fingers into my sides. “Just tell me what you want and it’s yours.”

“I don’t want to be alone,” I said as I continued to look out at the waves crashing against each other. That was what Henry and I were, two giant waves destined to meet, collide, converge. His arms slid around me.

“Then I will never leave you,” he responded. There was emptiness in me that I hadn’t even noticed until it began to lift. I believed him. He and I could be together, never be separated. Yet there was still a yawning distance between us.

Chapter Text

After the ocean I decided that I wanted to go to a different country. Henry gave an indulgent, knowing smile and asked where. We ended up in Mexico, just over the border. I had never seen the desert before. It was stark and dry but somehow majestic. I took off my boots and let my feet touch the scorching sand.

“Will this be a regular thing, you having to be barefoot?” Henry asked with half a smile. I looked at him through darkly tinted sunglasses and smiled in return. My skin had become less susceptible to the sunlight, but in the scorching rays of the desert it began to seethe. I let it sting my skin until Henry forced a long coat around me and we rode off to the nearest town.

My skin had begun to blister so Henry was in far too great of a hurry to get me inside for me to have a decent look around. He shoved me into an abandoned shack that looked as though a stiff wind would blow it down. It smelled musty and, had I not already been dead, I would have feared catching some sort of disease just by looking at the mattress.

“Rest now, my love,” Henry whispered to me, running a soothing hand over my hair. I dreamed of Mary and the boys, of playing some silly game in the White House, of chasing down monsters in the dark. I dreamed of Henry whispering sweet things in my ear. I dreamed of his lips against mine. I dreamed of the careful way he told me he loved me.

I woke with a start. Night had come and my burns had nearly healed. Henry had left a candle burning and set an unconscious man at my feet for dinner. I drank from him, not caring who he was or what he had done. I trusted Henry and if Henry had brought this man to me than I knew he was something wicked.

Once I had my fill I noticed for the first time a note lying on the floor beside the bed. It was written in Henry’s script. I felt my insides squirm and my heart contract, the newly ingested blood constricting in my veins. Despite my sudden trepidation, I opened the letter and read:

Abraham,

I’m sorry to have left you so quickly but there is a matter of urgency I must attend. Do not fret, I shall return in no more than three days. I would not argue if you decided to leave the desolate shack for something more accommodating. It matters not where you go, I will always find you.

Yours ever,

Henry

I stared at the letter, unable to comprehend. Sickness swept through me and had I still been mortal it would have come out. I read his words over again, trying to make sense of them. What could possibly have been so urgent that he would have left me here alone? I was unsure if I should be worried or angry. In the end I was a little bit of both.

--

The following morning I decided to take Henry’s encouragement and find new lodgings. The town was small and quaint but there was a decent tavern that housed rooms for rent above it. The price was a bit steep but Henry and I had enough money as to never worry over the price of anything. I took a room at the far end of the second floor so I would not bother anyone and not be bothered. As it turned out I needn’t have worried as there were only two other people at the tavern, a young couple on honeymoon.

I did nothing but stay in my room and pace the floor. I waited for Henry to return or another letter giving further explanation for his sudden departure. Night came without word. Fear welled inside of me. Henry was not the only vampire I knew, but he was the only one I could trust. I have met some before and after my death and none of them are what I would consider to be suitable companions. Most preferred to be alone anyway.

I could not understand why. Just being alone for a few hours I grew restless for company, someone to speak with, to listen to. Not just anyone, though. I wanted Henry. I wanted his voice, his attention, his skin against mine.

The warm spread of arousal washed through me at the thought. I lay down upon the bed on my back. I could feel the ghost of Henry’s hands on me, the calloused fingers, and the steady pant of his breath against my neck. I closed my eyes against the rest of the world. I focused all the attention I could to my body.

Henry’s face swam out of the darkness. There was a smile on his face. He nipped at my mouth. I ran my hand down my chest, over my abdomen, and pulled down my trousers. I wrapped the hand around my erection. I was hard and already leaking. I felt a fire spread over me as I began to pump my hand over my swelling member. I pushed my rhythm faster. Henry’s voice echoed in my head, words of encouragement, of lust, of passion, of love.

I came with Henry’s name on my lips.

--

Mary stood before me, dressed in her wedding gown. Tad, Willie, and Eddie stood next to her. She let go of Eddie’s hand to offer it to me. I was pulled to her, as I always had been. But just as I felt her skin against mine, her palm to mine, her lips spread in a grin, the moment was broken. They began to fade slowly into a pinpoint of light that quickly blinked out.

For the second day in a row I woke with a start. I sat upright in bed in a daze. The dream had felt so real. Too real. I looked around the room for some sort of comfort but was met only with the smell of sex in the air. I buried my head in my hands in remembrance of the night before. Had the dream been some sort of punishment?

There was an unshakable feeling inside of me. It was not entirely guilt. It was a horrible feeling of loss. Two things became very suddenly clear to me: Mary was dead and I would never again see her or our children, not in this life or the next.

--

The entirety of my day was spent sitting on the floor, back against the wall, staring. I watched as the shadows on the walls changed with the fading of the sun. Darkness crept up around me but I did not move to light a candle. I waited in the silence.

Chapter Text

Henry returned around sunset the next night. He found me against the same wall, staring at the door. He was at once by my side, calling my name. His face was pale, more so than usual, and he was worried.

“Where were you?” was all that I could manage. My voice sounded strange to me, rougher, sadder.

“I had to see to something,” was Henry’s answer. I grew angry. At once I was on my feet and looming over him. He backed away immediately.

“She’s dead,” I hissed out. The look he gave me was not one of surprise. I should have known. I honestly did not think he was capable. “Was it you?”

“What? How could-” he began to argue.

“How?” I shouted and crowded close to him. “Because you’re a monster! Because you turned me into one against my will!”

“I wouldn’t hurt-“

“No! You’re a liar,” I screamed in his face and pushed him with such force that he made a dent in the wall. “You killed her.”

He gaped at me like a fish in the open air, struggling to breathe. I could feel the rawness of hatred inside of me. The guilt clawed at my bones. I wanted rip my own skin off, run to the ends of the earth, burn in the fires of Hell. I had betrayed my wife with my feelings for Henry.

I grabbed Henry by his collar and drew him forcibly to me. I grit my teeth and seethed, “Where were you?”

He did not at once respond. He looked upon me with fear and uncertainty.

“I swear to you, I did not kill her,” Henry said, slowly and carefully as though I were a frightened animal. “I was-“

But I would not allow him to continue. So full of rage and overwhelming hatred, more than I had felt when first I had woken to my new life.  I released him from my hold and stalked out of the room, slamming the door in my wake, breaking the hinges. I heard Henry follow behind me.

“Abraham, just listen to me,” he was shouting after me. The couple on honeymoon was still awake and having a drink at the bar as I thundered down the stairs into the tavern.  They looked up to see the commotion. I paid them no mind and went outside, Henry at my heels.

“Please stop! I was trying to help,” Henry was still calling out to me. I had no idea where I was going but once these words had escaped his mouth I stopped and turned to him.

“Help?” I asked incredulously. “By killing my wife?” Here he made to defend himself, but I was too quick in my hatred to allow such a thing. “You finally grew tired of waiting and took out the only obstacle in your path.”

“No, Abraham, I would never-“

“You did! Just so you could have me for yourself,” I shouted. A coyote howled in the distance. I saw his face become ashen, a pain flit across his handsome features.

“You think me capable of such a thing?” He asked in a voice so hurt and lost it almost broke across my barrier of anger and resentment. I steadied myself against such an attack.

“You’re a monster,” I whispered harshly. He moved closer to me, made to caress me with his hand but I pulled away as though burned by the touch.

“I love you, Abraham,” he said in reply, “that is very true, more so every day. But I know that I would not win your love by killing Mary.”

“Don’t you dare say her name,” I said in a growling response. “You could never win my love. I could not love you any more than you could love me.”

“But I do lo-“

“No! You don’t! You can’t!” I was unsure if I was trying to convince him or myself of this. “Emotions are dead to us. It’s not possible.”

“I thought the same, but I was wrong,” Henry dared to reach out to me again, wrapping a hand around the back of my neck. He looked up into my eyes. “I love you.”

He leaned forward and pulled me down until our lips met. The kiss was soft and dry. My heart leapt and my stomach flipped and warmth grew across my body. Henry swiped his tongue slowly across my bottom lip. As he tried to part my lips with his tongue I pushed him away. He did not resist, but he stood his ground and did not move far.

“Leave me,” I said in a hoarse murmur. He looked frightened, more so than I had ever seen him before. He was at once shaking his head no and making protests. He tried to grab for me again but I pulled away and shouted, “Go!”

For a moment he seemed at a loss. He stared at me until it became clear that my resolve was unwavering. He began to back away. I looked down to the cold, dusty earth. My feet were bare. When I looked back up Henry was gone. I had to steel myself from looking around for him.

I walked back to the tavern. The couple was still at the bar and seemed to be determinedly ignoring my return. I retrieved what little possessions I had; my axe, my coat, a few coins, and my boots. With that I left the tavern, the town, and Henry behind. I did not look back.

--

I made my way up to Illinois for the funeral. I had no desire to disguise myself. I shaved what stubble had grown, cut my hair, and made certain to blend into the crowd of mourners. Perhaps people there thought I was a relation of President Lincoln. If they did they made no mention to me of it.

They put Mary in the tomb where I supposedly already lie so that we could be together forever. Only we wouldn’t be. She would have her rest and I would have my suffering. I contemplated rushing into the tomb to be with my dearest wife again. To lock myself in darkness. To suffocate and starve. To die.

I knew in all likelihood nothing waited for me in death but emptiness. There was no heaven, not any more. Hell was still a valid possibility. I may yet burn for all eternity. It did not matter. Mary was dead. Henry was gone.

Henry. I hated him. I loved him. I wanted to be alone. I wanted to be with him. He made me wrecked and he made me whole. Most of all he made me what I am; the man, the monster, the hunter, the hero.

They were both gone. I had nothing and no one. I was completely alone. All that was left was the vow I had made to destroy every vampire I could find. It was no longer enough. But I must cling to it or I must die. Once again I faced the same choice.

Long ago I made my decision because I owed it to those who gave their lives to save their country. That is a debt that will never be paid. This new choice must be for my own reason, made of my own volition, and for no one else but me.

I watched the tomb close. The crowd began to depart. My desire to die, to give in, began to fade. It was replaced with hatred for those creatures that had plagued me my whole life. That fire, that rage, was all consuming. It eclipsed all other thoughts. I could no longer dwell on those I had lost. Night after night, day after day, I would reap my hatred upon the sinister creatures that had taken so much from me.

Standing before Mary’s final resting place I made a new vow, much as the one I made to my mother so long ago, that I had made in my first few days after my resurrection. This was the vow I take not as a man or a hunter, but as a vampire. I will rain fire upon my own kind and I will destroy them. Here I have been given eternity and I will use it to end theirs.

Now I am become death, destroyer of worlds.

Chapter Text

I suppose violent outbursts are the vampire equivalent of melancholy. After Mary’s death I spent every waking hour on the hunt. I destroyed without mercy. I barely slept or fed. All I did was massacre any vampire I could find. The more I would kill, the less I could feel.

It began with a female vampire that I decapitated. I rolled her body into the Mississippi River. It sank below the dark, dirty water. I watched it disappear. I felt nothing. There was only the unending emptiness that took the place of what was once my soul.

I followed the railroad that was being built across the plains. I hammered down spikes and laid ties. The other men found it odd that I wore sunglasses, but they did not seem to care that I barely spoke. They never asked questions when I invited one of the woman (or one of the men) to my tent and they were never seen again.

After awhile I made it back to the ocean. It seemed colder and harsher than before. I sat in the surf and let the water soak through my clothes. I shut my eyes and listened to the waves. I saw Mary’s smile, Henry’s eyes, felt a jolt of pain across my chest. I pushed it away with a surge of resentment.

--

When I went further north I found three vampires who were living in a cabin on the outskirts of a forest. I had to quell my curiosity. I wanted to ask them why they were together, if they were friends, if they were together out of the necessity or survival. I decapitated them instead.

--

The Rocky Mountains are possibly the best place to hide a corpse.

--

I stopped wondering if those I destroyed had done wrong. Some tried to feign innocence but I no longer listened, no longer cared. They were vermin and must be treated as such. There is no room for mercy. Decades pass, long ago uncounted. I had rid myself of any humanity I may have had.

I felt a darkness grow inside of me with each passing day. One would assume that darkness has no feeling, but it does. It is cold, empty, loveless. It is a waking nightmare. I feel the weight of it. And it is profound.

 --

It became apparent that I was being followed. I was uncertain of when it had started, I only knew that it had. And I knew who. I never saw him exactly, but I knew it was Henry. Part of me rejoiced that he was so near me. The other part felt a cold indifference.

He never approached me, never came too near, but I knew that he was there, although not all the time. There were moments when I was alone, never felt so alone.

He did not stop me from hunting, made no indication on whether he agreed with my methods or not. He kept his opinions to himself. There were times, however, when I felt a dark stare upon my back. It only made me fight harder, kill faster, run further.

--

Everyday seemed emptier then the day before. I felt distant. I hardly ever spoke. I was consumed by the darkness in my head. I drifted. I looked at the world with eyes that no longer belonged to me. I let myself forget, made myself forget.

My name. My family. The life I used to have.

Gone.

All gone.

--

I killed a man. He had done nothing wrong. I drained him and tossed him into a shallow grave. I had gone nearly two weeks without feeding and was feeling the effects. My limbs were weak, my stomach reeling as though to vomit. The man had the misfortune of being the first person I saw after waking up with the sunset.

I fed from him until he succumbed to death.

I felt nothing.

Watched the earth cover him and left.

--

It was no longer just Henry that followed me. There was a man, an ordinary man, who haunted my steps. I never saw him, but I could feel. He waited for an opportunity. More than once I contemplated giving him one.

One night he came at me with a pistol, the bullet pierced my chest and burrowed into my lung. It stung a little but I’ve had worse. He seemed surprised that I did not fall down dead. He stared at me with horrified fascination.

“I’m a vampire, you stupid fuck,” I whispered harshly. I could not remember the last time I had actually spoken. I had nearly forgotten the sound of my own voice. I sank my teeth into his neck, but made certain not to kill him. He was interesting, I wanted to keep him. I could see the look of terror in his eyes.

--

“Why are you doing this?”

“Some men are just to interesting to die.”

--

I wanted to turn him. I wanted to take him. I did not want to be alone. More than anything, I wanted to pry Henry from the shadows. I needed to see him. To feel something again. Even if that was hatred.

Chapter Text

The night held close to me as I stepped outside the small house I had taken to staying in. From within I could hear the man screaming despite the fact he was chained to a wall in the concrete basement. The house was alone in the woods, no one could hear him. He yelled various obscenities aimed in my direction. I suddenly realized that I did not even know his name.

“Abraham,” a voice said. I turned toward the sound. Standing at the base of one of the trees, dressed in a plain dress shirt, trousers, and boots, was Henry Sturges. I could feel a weight sink from my chest to my stomach.

No immediate reply came from my lips, so taken aback was I by the sudden wash of emotion that overcame me. It was as though I had just awoken from a long, dark dream and saw the sun shine with uncovered eyes. The ashes of my heart began to stir into embers, a flicker of hope amongst the ruins.

“What the hell are you doing here?” I asked with evident vehemence, determined to remain stoic. I grabbed for my axe only to find that I was without it.

“You need to stop this, Abraham,” Henry said, obviously unaffected by the way I had spoken to him. He took a step closer to me and I wanted to rush to him, to grab him, to hold him, something solid to cling to. I refused, however, to be weak.

“Fuck you,” I replied and turned to go back inside the house. Henry was between me and the door in the blink of an eye. Now that I saw him up close he seemed older, tired.

“You must stop this,” Henry repeated, his voice strong. “Do you not see what you’ve become?”

“Then put an end to it!” I hissed back. I grabbed his shirt harshly in one hand and shook him. “You made me what I am, it would only be fitting for you to finish what you started.”

“No,” Henry replied, shaking his head, “this is not who you are.”

“You have no idea who I am!” I screamed. I shoved him against the wooden door, causing it to splinter. Henry did not even flinch or show fear, not that I really expected him to.

“You are Abraham Lincoln,” Henry replied, his voice as calm as ever, his eyes boring into mine.

“That name is dead, that man is dead,” I answered, some of my anger leaking out to be replaced by a weariness that consumed me completely. I relaxed my hold on him and when I did he moved to reach into his coat pocket. I made no move to stop him, not caring if he were to produce a weapon.

Instead, Henry withdrew an old leather bound journal that was somewhat familiar to me. It sent a reverberating shock through my deadened nerves. It was mine, the one I had written of my years as a hunter, as a human. I took it from his hand slowly, reverently. I could smell the must as though it had been kept locked away in a draw somewhere for years.

“He is not gone,” Henry whispered. “He is just lost.” He wrapped his hand around the base of my skull and drew me closer. “I’m sorry.” His breath tickled my skin. For a moment I felt that flicker of hope burn that much brighter and warmer. “I should never have left. I should have fought for you.”

He brought his lips close to mine, pressing them against the bottom of my mouth. I did not respond. First there was something I needed to know, something that had brought me to the precipice where I know stand, one foot already dangling from the edge. I could barely speak, but I had to know the truth, even if I already did.

“Did you kill her?” I asked so quietly my own ears barely took notice of the sound. The pain sprung fresh, a wound that had never healed entirely. I closed my eyes, unable to look at him as I waited for an answer.

“No,” Henry replied in a quick breath. I opened my eyes but did not look up to him, instead focusing on the pale stretch of his neck. “I kept a watch over her, as I had over you in your life. I had received word from the Union that she was dying. I went to offer her eternal life.” He paused, expecting some fight from me, but I had little ambition for such a thing. “I knew you would not agree with such a tactic.

“All I have ever wanted was your love,” he continued, putting a hand to my chin and forcing my face up to look me in the eyes. “But I knew it would always belong to Mary. So I was determined to at least ensure your happiness by whatever means.”

“She refused,” I answered, smiling slightly to myself. It disappeared quickly and was replaced just as easily with hatred, but this time for myself. I should not have doubted Henry. All those years, decades, more than a lifetime. I knew his heart better than my own.

“She did not suffer,” Henry said to soothe me. He absently ran a thumb along my jaw. I had not realized until that moment how much I had missed his touch. “Her last words were of you.”

Here I could not help but falter. The walls I had built around me began to falter under the strain of such an admission. In Henry’s eyes I did not see disappointment or horror at the things I knew he had witnessed me doing. All I saw was a deep, enduring love. I knew the look well; I had seen it in Mary’s eyes every day we were together.

I felt a sudden wave of dizziness, a warm pain that burst in my chest cavity. It was as though the horrors that I had done over the last few decades came suddenly flooding over me in one great, unstoppable wave, ready to drown me. I clung to the only thing that has kept me afloat, the one thing that I have kept locked away in the ashes and trenches of my mind: Henry.

“I have you now,” he said as my knees buckled and he grasped me and helped me kneel onto the cold ground. “I will never leave you again. Never.” He whispered into my ear over and again. “I will be yours always.”

“What I’ve done, Henry, the things I’ve done,” I sputtered out my confession. The sheer weight of it began to fall through me. “I’ve become the monster I so despised.”

Henry pressed a careful, soft kiss to my lips and replied, “There is no redemption without first having sin.”

“I have more sin than ways to make penance,” I responded. I felt the need to cry and almost thought I would, but was met with only a constriction in the back of my throat. “And the one I must have the most forgiveness from is dead.”

“You know that she would forgive you for anything,” Henry said as he ran a soothing hand through my hair.

“Not this,” I began, but was unable to find the right words to continue. I took a deep breath to help gather my thoughts. “I accused you because I felt I had betrayed her. I wanted you gone from my sight because…” here I paused. His hand stopped its ministrations at the back of my head. His eyes shown with hope.

“Because I wanted you more than anyone. More than…” I couldn’t even say her name. I could tell that Henry was holding back his happiness at my confession. “I will always love her, and the way I felt for you was like betraying her.”

There was silence between us then. Henry stared into my eyes as though trying to detect a lie. At finding none he kissed me once more, this time harder, more bruising.

“It was no betrayal, Abraham,” Henry replied once he moved away. He held my face in his hands and had such a look on his face of overwhelming joy I could scarcely breathe from the intensity. “The last thing Mary said to me before she died was to keep you safe, to love you as greatly as I could. She wanted you to be happy, to love, to be loved. She did not want you to suffer.”

Henry smiled against the skin of my neck, kissed where my pulse had been. I grabbed at him, needing to feel something solid, something real. My anchor. “Do you still love me, Abraham?”

Here I felt a quake shake my body, a warmth spread over my limbs, the hate leak from my bones. I kissed him harshly, pushed my tongue deep into his mouth. I missed him more than I thought possible. In fact I had not borne it well at all. I had succumbed to darkness, to my horrifying nature.

“Say it,” Henry whispered, “I need to hear you say it.”

“I-” there was a rawness to my voice, a vulnerability that seeped out of the widening chinks in my resoluteness, “I love you.”

Chapter Text

A smile bloomed on Henry’s face at the words. His lips crashed against mine, his teeth biting along my lower lip. His hands pushed at my shirt, clawed at my skin, sent waves of heat over me. I was so overwhelmed I did not know what to do first. One hand grabbed around his elbow as the other skimmed over his side.

“Help me!” came a sudden shout. It was the man I held captive. Henry stopped, his fingers dug slightly into my ribs. Both of us had completely forgotten about my prisoner. Disgust welled up within me as I remembered all that I had done to the man, the pain I had caused him. As though sensing my emotions, Henry kissed me softly and ran a reassuring hand over my cheek.

“It will be alright, my love,” he whispered against my lips, “together you and I will make penance for our sins.”

He stroked his thumb across the underside of my jaw. I felt the turmoil inside me settle, the darkness was now a mere haze that clouded my vision. Henry took me by the hand and led me inside. The man instantly screamed louder upon seeing me, but he was quickly silenced by a gag Henry placed in his mouth.

We hauled him to his feet and set about finding somewhere secure to release him. Henry brought out a map. Upon it were several places circled and on closer inspection I realized that each marked a place I had stayed during our absence from each other.

We found what we decided to be a suitable settlement. Henry procured a cart, horse, and rope, the latter of which we used to bind our prisoner. The remainder of the night went by in a stream of endless sleep. Through the journey I leaned my head on Henry’s shoulder and slept so deeply as to be bordering on death.

I woke to the sun rising over the hills and the sound of scuffling. I found myself lying in the back of the wagon with no memory of how I had gotten there. Once I managed to shake off the drowsiness and prop myself on my elbows I looked up to see Henry escorting our prisoner to the outskirts of a small town. There he forced the man to his knees and untied him.

“Make no move until we have long gone. Should I hear you stir too soon I will return and rid you of your life,” Henry said to the man as he threw aside the rope. I jumped out of the back of the cart but did not make to join him.

“If you were going to kill me you would have done so by now,” the man said. Henry looked to me before bending low to the man’s ear.

“I would do whatever it took to protect the man I love,” Henry whispered, though with my superior ears I could easily hear him. “Do not move.”

The man froze, his whole body rigid in fear. Henry walked away and strode purposefully toward me. Upon reaching me he leaned forward and pressed a soft kiss to the side of my mouth. The man did as he was told, moving not so much as an inch.

“Where shall we go first, my love?” Henry asked with a playful smile. “Where would you be the happiest?”

It was a question I had not allowed myself to dwell upon in years. I had given up on happiness since my death. There had been no happiness. And yet as I thought on the matter I realized that I had been at the very least content with Henry. There was part of me, I knew, that would always be unreachable by any glee or hope. It had died when Mary had died, when I forced Henry away, when I succumbed to my dark nature.

“To every place on this planet, I want to see the whole world and I want to see it with you,” I answered, cupping my hand around the back of his neck. My numb fingers began to feel the softness of his flesh, the silkiness of his hair.

“We’ll close our eyes and point to a place on a map,” Henry smiled, his whole face lighting up. He clutched at my arms tightly as though afraid I would disappear. I tried to give such a genuine smile in return, but could only manage a slight upward tip from the corners of my mouth. He kissed against my cheek, took my hand, and we were back to the cart, on our way to everywhere.

--

The first place we went was not exactly spectacular. It was late afternoon when we arrived in a small settlement near the railroad. The entire town, if it could be called such, consisted of tents and houses made of sticks and mud. We huddled together on the floor of an empty one room shack. Henry’s chest was against my back, his arm around me, hand splayed against my stomach. I felt his breath against the back of my neck.

“Say it again,” he whispered into the shell of my ear, his arm squeezing slightly around me.

“I love you,” I responded in a low murmur. I watched the slivers of sunlight come between the wood of the shack. As the sun went down the shadows crept upon us but we paid no heed. I would have stayed exactly as we were for eternity.

--

Walking in London was like walking in the fog of a long gone past. The clatter of horse hooves mingled with the revving of automobiles. I still refused to ride in one, although Henry was anxious to have one for his own. He would look at them longingly before seeing my face. He would take my hand and led me off to another city.

--

Henry would kiss me when our boat arrived in whatever city we had landed in. We were given threatening looks, but no one would say a word. It may have had to do with the slightest bit of fang Henry would flash.

--

My axe would cut through the night and day and end a vampire. We fought, we ran, we loved. He would touch my hand and move his kiss along my jaw. He would press me up against a brick wall and sneak a fist into my trousers.

--

The world, it seemed, was determined to change. I dragged my feet, but change it must. As long as every moment was with Henry I could care less. When his hands were on me and his mouth around me and a fresh meal in my veins I had no other thought but him.

Chapter Text

Rome, Henry knew, was my favorite as it was steeped in history. So we decided to stay for awhile. He told me he would live there forever with me if I wanted. He told me he would marry me there if I asked. Anything I wanted was mine. Rome wasn’t built in a day, he would tell me, and neither was our love, but only one of them would outlast the other.

I stood on the veranda of a villa that we had been staying at for the last week. Night sprawled out through the ancient city below me. The wind whistled past my ear and carried the sweet scent of the diner across the street. It had been many years since I enjoyed the simple pleasures of sights and sounds and smells.

“Abraham,” Henry’s voice came from behind me. I turned to find him standing in the doorway of our bedroom. He wore nothing but black trousers and a white shirt that was unbuttoned. He held two glasses of wine in his hand. “You should come in before you catch a death of cold.”

I gave a half-smile and walked inside, closing the doors behind me. Henry held out one flute to me, which I gladly took. Alcohol did not take much of an effect on vampires, as I had through the course of time discovered. However, I found that it could still create a sensation of euphoria after enough consumption.

“Do you love me?” Henry asked. He would ask this same question often, or request the verification of my love in turn for his. It was though his very existence depended on knowing of my affection for him.

“Every day,” I answered easily, taking a sip of a white wine of a name and brand that I could not hope to begin to pronounce. Henry had assured me that it was expensive.

“Forever?” Henry asked, moving closer to me. I could tell by the shine in his eyes that he had some sort of plan in his mind. He swiftly tipped up his glass and took one long swig, emptying it entirely.

“Until the end of all things,” I replied. I furrowed my eyebrow in wonderment at Henry’s devious smile. He placed his glass on the desk that sat against the wall of the room. His hands did not stay empty long as his fingers began to undo the buttons of my shirt.

“How much do you want me?” Henry questioned, his voice low. There had been many times when he touched me, when I desired his hands upon me, but a fear still held sway over me when it came to intimacy.

He pushed the shirt from my shoulders, down my arms, and let it fall to the floor in a half-moon at my heels. He unabashedly let his eyes roam down my naked chest. His hand soon followed where it deftly began to unclasp my belt.

“Abraham?” Henry whispered against the underside of my jaw. “Do you want me?”

As he pressed against me I could feel the hardness of his erection. I worried at my bottom lip with my teeth and had to hold back a smile. “And what would it mean if I said that I wanted you?”

“Anything you want,” Henry replied as he tried to restrain the smile that began to bloom over his lips. I leaned down and captured what was left of the smile, wanting to keep it all for myself. I pushed my tongue into his mouth, felt the slickness of his own upon mine. My teeth clicked against his and I nearly laughed but decided to lightly bite his lip instead.

“I love you,” Henry whispered against my teeth. He cradled my head in his hands, his fingertips pressed against the back of my skull.

“I know,” I say back as though it were the most obvious thing in the world. Which, of course, it was.

“More than anyone I have ever loved,” he continued. The full weight of his words was not lost on me. He spoke of his poor wife, Edeva. He rarely ever mentioned her, as I did not Mary. We did not need to. I knew it meant a great deal for him to admit such a thing. Though I knew beyond any doubt that he loved me, to know the lengths and depths of it was something new entirely.

I kissed him again, unsure of my own thoughts and feelings on the matter. I loved him deeply, dearly, entirely. I mumbled these sentiments against his mouth as I carded my hand through his hair. There was a small place that always held within the eternal flame of my love for Mary, but around it as though protecting it was the steady and unending flow of devotion and affection and passion and love and lust and all other emotions that I could not give word to that I felt for Henry.

I may have spoken this out loud as well for I felt his smile against my lips. He pushed me so that I sat upon the edge of the bed. He stood between my legs and stripped himself of his shirt. I watched mesmerized as he shed his trousers and stood before me completely naked. I could not help but stare at his cock, hard and already leaking.

I scraped my thumbnail over the skin of his hipbone and grazed my hand down his thigh. I leaned forward and gave a tentative touch to his cock. It twitched under my fingers and Henry inhaled. I brought the head into my mouth and licked the slit. Henry grasped at one of my shoulder to steady himself.

Slowly, I brought him further into my mouth, closing tightly around him. I could tell that he was trying to hold himself back. I felt him ease into the back of my throat and had to steel myself to keep from choking.

The taste was salty and warm and Henry. I wrapped my hand around the base of his cock as I drew my mouth up and down the rest of the shaft. Above me I could barely hear the moans that fell from Henry over the white noise in my ears. I was close to coming myself, without having even been touched.

It was then in surprise that Henry reluctantly pulled away from me. I feared for a moment that I had done something wrong. Before I could ask Henry’s lips were on mine, his tongue where his cock had just been, no doubt he could taste himself in me. He grabbed my hips and was forcing me off the bed so he could strip my trousers and undergarments off.

“I want you to fuck me,” he said, his voice raspy. I swallowed harshly but could feel myself grow that much harder and almost came at the request. I could not even form words, only nodded. He reached down to his discarded trousers and searched around the pockets until he found a small vile of clear liquid.

Henry pushed me onto my back on the bed and straddled my lap. He reached behind himself and I could not quite see what he was doing but by the look on his face I knew I should be pissed at missing it. We must get a mirror. Actually, several mirrors, all place in strategic positions.

He brought the hand back and spread it across my sternum, it was slippery and wet. I did not have time to dwell on the matter as he pushed himself up over my cock and slowly, god, so slowly, sank himself down upon it. He was surprisingly warm inside, probably because we had fed only a few hours before.

I began to feel the synapses in my brain fire and misfire in quick succession as he sat flush against my hips. My neck was stretched out, my hands grasped tightly against Henry’s hips, my mouth open and trying to draw in whatever breath in could. Henry bent over me as much as possible and kissed my chest, just over my heart.

It was like being alive once again. The same warmth and fullness returned to me in an almost overwhelming urgency. I swear I could feel my heart thudding against my chest, the blood pumping radically through my veins.

Henry lifted himself again and back down and I felt the spark of a bright sun against my stomach. The next time he tried to move I was already pushing back up into him, earning a surprised gasp out of him. I could not, would not, stand for slowness. With a quickness that had served me so well as a hunter I flipped Henry onto his back and towered above him.

He looked up to me with shining eyes and ready smile. I could do nothing but kiss him. He wrapped one leg around my waist and dug his foot into the small of my back. The other leg I grabbed under the knee with a hand and forced it as high as I could possibly get. I felt myself slip deeper inside the tight heat.

“Henry…” I sighed out. I pulled out and pushed back in. There was a strangled noise in response. I pistoned in and out as quickly and harshly as I could muster without hurting Henry, which I knew was not really possible.

“Fuck…” Henry breathed out against my neck as my thrusts grew shallow and wild. A warm, bright fever grew low in my abdomen, like sunshine emerging from just behind a cloud. It grew hotter and sweeter. It traveled over my legs and arms and into my fingers. I slammed into Henry until it forced the very breath out of his lungs in short puffs. I felt the heat burst out of me, a white light blinding me despite my eyes being closed.

I felt the intensity of my orgasm rack through me. Henry dug his fingers into my shoulder blades. I bit down hard on the junction between his neck and his clavicle. He whisper-yelled my name and I felt the warmth of his release against my chest. I fell against him, despite the stick and sweat between us. I could give a shit.

Slowly I pulled out of Henry as I began to soften. He gave a disagreeable sound to which I could only muster a small laugh at. I lay down on my side next to him, his bicep was pinned under me, the rest of his arm drew up around my waist until his fingers played over my ribs.

“I love you more than anyone I’ve ever loved,” I whispered into his ear just as his eyes had slipped shut. He made no reply, only opened his eyes, turned his head, and kissed me softly. We curled together and drifted away into sleep.

Chapter Text

Epilogue

“Do you like it?” Henry asked as we walked through the burned out shell of the house. It had once been a large mansion and was hidden deep in the trees just off the highway. All that remained was the husk of what had once been greatness. A chandelier hung loosely from the ceiling and looked as though it might come crashing down at any moment.

“What’s not to like?” I retorted with a smirk. I stepped over the threshold and felt the floor slightly give under my foot. I looked down to see that rot had eaten away at a good portion of it. I looked up to Henry and raised an eyebrow.

“I want you to like it, Abraham,” Henry said, the hope for my approval clear in his voice. Even after nearly a century and a half there was no end to what Henry would do to please me. He had turned back the annals of time, restoring my appearance to as it had been when Henry and I had first met. Not that Henry cared much for what I looked like, although I knew he had not been overly fond of the beard.

“Is this another gift?” I asked as I looked into what I assumed had once been a parlor. A large picture window had been broken and a tree limb had grown into the room, long lengths of ivy growing from it down the floor and back up the far wall.

“For your birthday,” Henry replied with a shrug. I turned to him with a lopsided smile and crossed my arms over my chest.

“It’s not my birthday,” I answered. “Besides, don’t you stop celebrating such an occasion once dead?”

Henry gave a noncommittal noise in response and began looking around the house. There had been many places we had stayed over the years. We owned none of them. There were rented apartments, hostels, rundown motels, villas. Some were beautiful and some smelled of shit. By the time Henry and I left each one would smell of blood and sex.

We had never had a home before. We had never had a normal life before. Life was something we could never have now. But Henry was determined to give the image of one, if only for my sake. Henry would tell me that I deserved it, after all. My life had been spent hunting vampires and losing those I loved.  Death had not treated me much kinder.

“There’s a town not far we can visit from time to time,” Henry said and I could feel him watch me as I wondered from one room to another. “We can have this place constructed exactly as we want it.”

There was a notable pause as I went from what had once been a kitchen, out of earshot, and back into the parlor where Henry still stood. As I walked past him toward one of the broken out windows, Henry caught the elbow of my tweed jacket. I stopped but did not look at him.

“It could be our home,” Henry said in a hopeful whisper. Reluctantly I turned to face him, knowing that as soon as I did he would win. For as much as I was his weakness, he was just as certainly mine. “We could stay here for awhile, together, just you and I,” he paused for a moment and ran a hand up my arm. “Perhaps get a dog.”

“Give up hunting?” I asked in curiosity. We had travelled all these years, to every country on the map, and some that no longer were. We crossed deserts and mountains and canyons to hunt our own kind. There were barely any left that dared show their face.

“Not entirely, we will always be ready if needed. Only now we will have somewhere to return to when the job is finished, somewhere permanent,” Henry replied and I could tell that he held back his enthusiasm. I felt concerned for a moment; hunting was all I had known for so long. I did not put a voice to these thoughts, however.

Instead I walked back into the foyer and began to tread up the rickety stairs. Henry followed dutifully behind me. I walked silently through every room upstairs; three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a master suite. In various parts the ceiling had caved in revealing a rather large attic above. There was no doubt the house was large, too large for just us.

I turned on Henry after entering the master bedroom. “What aren’t you telling me?”

“Nothing,” Henry replied instantly. After all this time he should have known that he could not lie to me. I walked the length of the room to stand within a short reach from Henry and crossed my arms.

“A dog?” I asked, going back to a part of the conversation Henry had thought had been glossed over. Henry nodded. He grazed a hand lightly over my neck.

“And maybe, once we’re settled,” Henry took his time speaking. He swallowed harshly and looked as desperate as he could into my eyes. “A child.”

I was taken aback by the comment. I blinked slowly as I began to register what Henry was truly asking. I opened my mouth but found that I did not know exactly what to say. Henry kissed my jaw and my lips, effectively ending any effort I would have given to speak.

“I want a family, Abraham,” he whispered against my jugular, “I know it is difficult for you to consider such a thing.”

“I have lost one family, Henry,” I said quietly, quickly, desperately. “I couldn’t bear to lose another.”

It was a surprise that Henry smiled at this. He cupped my face in his hands and stood on the tips of his toes to kiss me. His lips flush against mine, cold but soft. His tongue made a quick swipe against my lower lip before he pulled away and landed flat on his heels once again.

“You will never lose me,” Henry said assuredly. I believed him. His smile faded and he grew solemn. “And you are not the only one who has lost a family.”

Of course, how stupid I was. The pain in his eyes was not as fresh as it had been when he had first told me the story, but it was palpable none the less. I ran soothing fingers through his hair just above his ear. I poured my arms around him and held him tight.

“Yes,” was all I could manage to say. He looked at me then with such hope and happiness and surprise. For so long he had given me anything, everything, I have ever desired.

“What exactly are you saying yes to?” he asked, his voice cracking in an attempt to keep his excitement at bay.

“Everything; home, family, borderline retirement,” I said with a smile, a real smile, not one that I would fake for his sake. There was not much I had to fake for Henry. He pushed me against the wall, his hands flat against my chest, his tongue against the inside of my teeth. He whispered into my ear that we would fuck in every room of the house. We started with the bedroom.

--

Rhinebeck turned out to be a nostalgic place; I suspected that was why Henry chose it. He would go into town every day. He would return sometimes with workers and set them on sprucing up the house, although he would leave me to direct them. There was one day he came home and said that he had found the most wonderful vintage shop. He seemed quite interested in the young man that worked there.

“Should I be worried?” I asked him as he came in practically gushing about how he had spent the entire afternoon speaking to the man. Henry kissed the side of my mouth as I watched several of the construction workers laying down one of the large granite slabs that would make up the island in the kitchen.

“Of course not, my love,” he said. There was some nervous agitation about him that I did not care for. I looked at him, knowing that was all it took to get him to talk. “I want to give him your journal.”

“What?” I yelled at once, several of the workers looking in our direction. “Are you insane?”

“He’s a writer, I think he would do your biography justice, unlike some of the others,” Henry rolled his eyes. We were both not fans of the various histories that had been written about me, although most of them were flattering. “He would not fear to tell the truth about you. All of the truth.”

“Why now?” I asked, hyper aware of our situation. “Just as we have begun to live with anonymity.”

“All you had to do was shave the beard,” Henry retorted with a smirk. “Any vampire still left has long ago gone into deep hiding, but there is always a need for someone to be at the ready should they return from the shadows.”

“And my journals would accomplish that?” I retorted. I walked away from him but he followed close behind, as I knew he would.

“Think of it as your legacy,” Henry said, dogging my footsteps as I went to inspect the parlor. The window had been fixed, although the walls had been painted a green in honor of the ivy that had once grown within. The original wood floor had by some miracle been saved. It was worn and ragged in some places, but I adored it. The fireplace had not been so lucky, but fortunately we happened to have a large limb ripe for use as a new mantelpiece.

“I thought I pretty much had the whole legacy thing in the bag,” I said with obvious sarcasm. Henry let out a soft laugh and wrapped his arms around my waist, folding his hands together over my stomach and resting his cheek on my back between my shoulder blades.

“Very well,” Henry said with resignation. “But you should know that I will wear you down.”

To this I smiled and replied, “Yes, darling, I know. You always do.”

“Speaking of which,” Henry released his hold from me and took my hand. Together we walked hand in hand upstairs where the work had been completed and the work still continuing elsewhere could not be heard.

The room was thankfully quiet and Henry made certain to open the door slowly, even though the hinges were new and would not creak. We both tread softly inside, closing the door just as carefully behind us. Henry released my hand as we got closer to the crib.

“How is she?” I asked as Henry peered into the crib. He looked back to me with a small smile. I had not moved from just inside the door. Henry reached his hand out and beaconed for me.

“Why don’t you see for yourself?” he asked. He knew very well why I was so reluctant. Even on her first day I would not hold her or touch her. I feared giving my love to a living creature, especially one so small and fragile, something I felt could be so easily taken away. But I moved closer and gazed down at the sleeping infant.

She still had no name as I had shied away from discussing such a thing. For the time he called her angel and I called her baby. We debated on a last name as well. On the adoption papers it was our fictitious last name (Smith), but one day when she was older we knew the truth would have to be told. Would she be a Sturges or a Lincoln? Would she be a hunter or a vampire? Would I have to face the day when I must turn my own daughter? Would I have to watch her go through the same madness I did?

“Stop thinking so much,” Henry whispered as he ran his hand over her small, plump cheek. I could see her chest rise and fall. I could hear the blood pumping through her tiny heart. Usually such a thing would send me into a frenzy of hunger, but all I could think of was the lengths I would go to keep it beating.

“What about Nancy?” I asked as I stared down at her. Henry, of course, knew exactly what I was talking about. He always did. He knew it before I would even say it aloud.

“After your mother,” Henry placed his hand over her chest, to feel the heart underneath. He did this several times a day since the we picked her up from the adoption agency the week before.

“Unless you would prefer Edeva?” I asked, finally taking my eyes from the sleeping baby to look at Henry. He was shaking his head with melancholy dissent.

“No, it would be too much for me to say her name every day,” Henry replied. I placed my arm around his shoulder and kissed him lightly on the forehead. “Katherine was my mother’s name.” His voice had a distance to it. I suppose it was because the name had been buried under the crushing depth of four hundred years.

“Nancy Katherine Lincoln-Sturges,” I said with a slight crease in my forehead, “It’s a bit of a mouthful.”

“Luckily she’ll legally have to go by Nancy Katherine Smith,” Henry corrected me. Nancy began to stir suddenly and no doubt Henry believed it was because she already knew her name. He supposed her to be quite smart, where as I argued that she was four weeks old and could not possible be able to prove her brilliance, although I was also certain that she was.

Her lids opened and I was met with the softest hazel eyes. I could have sworn that she smiled before her glance moved over to Henry and she let out a yawn. She did not cry. A whole week and I had not yet once heard her cry. Her laugh though, I could listen to the sound of it for all eternity. In fact, I meant to.

“Pick her up, Abraham,” Henry said as she grabbed hold of one of his fingers in her tiny fist. I hesitantly did so, my hands scooping her up, cupping the back of her head carefully. She did not let go of Henry as I did so. He drew closer to me so that she may continue her hold. I brought her close to my chest and kissed the top of her head. She smelled of softness and light and all things good in this world.

“Nancy,” I said to her, her eyes going to me at once. Perhaps she was as clever as Henry claimed. “Hello, there my darling girl.”

Henry laid a soft kiss on the hand still wrapped around his finger. I feared that for the rest of our existence it would be the other way around, Henry and I completely at her mercy. And that was perfectly fine by me.

“One day, dear Nancy, you will be a strong fighter,” I continued, settling her directly over where my empty heart lay forever silent. Though it filled with a love that I had feared I would never feel again. “But until that day comes your daddy and I will keep you safe.”

She began to fall asleep once again, the rumble of my voice soothing against her ear. Henry was right; she knew exactly what I was saying. She felt the safety I provided her, the love I carried, the eternity that I could not only promise but also deliver. Henry stood on his tip toes, braced himself with one hand against my bicep, and kissed me softly on the lips.

I knew that life would not always be so easy, so wonderful, and little Nancy would have hardships. I would never escape my fear of losing her or Henry, but I also knew that I would claw the eyes out of anyone who tried. Those lucky few vampires that are left know my real legend.  They know that to come after me and mine is to court death. And should there be a vampire out there that does not know of me, a day will come when my name is the last sound its lips make.

I am death, I am the destroyer, I am a father, I am a fighter. My name is Abraham Lincoln and I am a vampire.